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1999 ML320
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16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Friends, we bought '99 ML320 (191k miles now) one year ago. It had Bridgestone Alenzas and rears were worn very unevenly (still tread on inside half of rear tires but outside half gone). Obviously we had to get new tires, so I bought a set of Michelin LTX tires from Tirerack and had Firestone install them. My wife drove it home from shop and she was shocked at how rough/bouncy the ride was. We assumed the tires were the problem, so Tirerack graciously allowed us to switch them for a set of Michelin Latitude tires. There was maybe some improvement by switching to the Latitudes, but basically it is still riding much more bouncy than it did just prior to replacing the tires. I do not believe the shocks have ever been replaced, and I was told that the original owner had heavy duty shocks installed on it. We just thought it was weird that getting new tires would have such a negative impact on the ride!? Thank you for any thoughts/guidance!
 

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2000 E 320 Wagon + 2002 ML 500 SUV
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Easyreiter:

First, welcome to the Benzworld w163 / "ML" Forum. Lots of great helpful folks are here !

I agree with what Art said, careful on the tire pressure.

Also it is hard to know if the wear is due to worn components or prior owner ignoring correct pressure.

One question occurs to me:

what tire size did you install ? The 'door sticker' MB recommended size ? What size is that, or some other size ?

Sometimes side wall profile ratio can affect the ride quality.

I just did a tire size upgrade (away from 'door sticker' size) and the ride is 'softer'.

Also, it may be helpful to keep in mind: The ML is more truck, than car.

I know SUV's can bias towards one or the other, but these ML's are biased towards the truck side, with stiff springs & full separate frame, then body on top.

Just like a half-ton truck.

I had the same reaction when first taking possession of our 2002 ML500.

My MB reference point was my wife's 2000 e320 wagon, and I was unrealistically expecting similar road feel & ride.

The ML is a much stiffer ride, every road imperfection is more felt.

The e-wagon just floats over the rough stuff. But think about load capacity:

The wagon can tow 4 kids & big Sam's Club grocery load. (LOL)

The ML can tow 5,000#

The ML ride is, however, more civilized than that of our 2500 Dodge Ram 4x4 Cummins, with it's heavy 8800# gvw chassis.

The Dodge Ram can tow 15,000# Scary firm ride when unladen !

So, everything is relative.

Hope this helps a bit.

David in East Texas

PS: fyi I just did new front shocks - KYB. Am about to do rear 'Coil-over' shock units...
 

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1999 ML320
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16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
And David, thank you for the welcome and your comments also. I had the standard size tires installed: Michelin Latitude Tour HPs 255 65R16. From what I've looked at online, I'm fairly confident I could change the front shocks myself, but I'm not quite sure about the rears. I would be interested to know how your experience goes in doing the rears (and also what units you go with).
 

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1999 ML320
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910 Posts
You don't need to go to dealer to get alignment, any independent alignment shop can do it better. Save some money by not going to dealer and spend on front shocks. I have the same Michelin Latitude Tour HP 255 65R16 bought and installed at around 193k from Costco, great ride and works good on snow as well.

I replaced front shocks with Sachs-Boge (said to be OEM) from AutohausAZ. You can also by KYB(also said to be OEM) for about the same price. It's pretty easy DIY, if you have basic automotive skill, search this forum for detailed DIY instruction. I'm sure there's a few YouTube videos if you searched for "W163 front shock replacement". FYI, I haven't replaced rears, its cost is much higher and frankly, beyond my capability.

Oh, your wear pattern could be a sign of worn tie-rod ends, check it out.
 

· Premium Member
ML55 2003, ML63 2007
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4,175 Posts
As sparky said, find an alignment shop. For rear you have 3 options.
1. The easy option. You buy the complete strut. Strut is the shock inside the spring as a unit. Fit it yourself.
2. The VERY dangerous option & you need spring compressors. You buy the shocks. Remove the spring from your old shock & fit to the new one. As I said extremely dangerous. One can die doing it........
3. Buy the shocks. Remove the strut. Find a shop to remove the spring & fit it on the new shock. Fit the strut back yourself.
 

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1999 ML320
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16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Friends, thanks for your comments. I’m going to try to be brutally honest in this update.  I had the ML320 (192k miles) aligned on Thursday, and I noticed some improvement in ride (went over bumps more quietly). Last night we did 250 miles RT to airport (Michelin Latitude tires at 32 psi). It is still very bouncy, even with my daughter’s luggage in back. We cannot understand the marked difference between pre- vs. post- new tires. I know this sounds a bit crazy, but we cannot help but wonder if some guy at the tire shop did something damaging to the car when they installed the tires. (Originally, and inexplicably, they installed the white lettered tires w/ lettering on the inside. When she went to pick up, my wife insisted they correct that, so perhaps someone there could have been irked.) For example, would there be an easy way for a mechanic to ruin or damage a shock? Anyways, at this point, my hunch is that we need to move on to replacing shocks. I have the *feeling* that the “bounce problem” is located at the rear, but I can’t really justify that. I am totally comfortable with the idea of replacing the fronts—should I start with that and see where we’re at? Thanks y’all for reading and for your comments/thoughts.
 

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2000 ML55 sold? 2013 ML500,? 2017 C43 AMG,1929 Victory 6 roadster, 1927 Dodge 4 sedan, 1929 Dodge
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6,343 Posts
You would like to think a repair shop would not do anything to your car. There's really nothing they can do to cause your complaint of a bumpy ride. Different tyres will make a huge difference to a cars handling. I had hankooks on mine a view years ago and loved them. Then I went to Conti's and to be honest the hankooks were crap in comparison. The difference in the cars handling and ride was unbelievable. You new tyres may have a stiffer wall than your old so it may not change much. Drop your tyre to 29 just for a drive and see if it makes any difference. Don't leave them at that your tyres will wear to quickly. New shocks will make the difference aswell if they haven't been changed in a while.


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1999 ML320
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910 Posts
When I replaced front shocks & outer tie rods on my ML320, I had 4 wheel alignment done promptly. But ever since the replacement, I started to hearing some thump on every turn, seemingly louder on left turns than right turns. It's just natural to think I've done something wrong with what I did, went back to get new alignment but still the same. I've been trying to chase the cause for two years without success.

Then, had my front wheel bearings replaced, against many expert mechanic's advice. The rotational thump bothered me so much, had them replaced just to see what happens, found the bearings are on their way out but never made screeching noise they usually make. Afterwards, a trusted MB mechanic said, "I have never seen front wheel bearings gone bad on any MLs".

My point here is; your tire replacement probably has nothing to do with bouncy ride you're experiencing. It could be shocks(any one or more of 4), or tie-rods, or something else, just happened at about the same time frame. In my case, replacement of tie rods and front shocks had nothing to do with front wheel bearings gone bad, just bad timing. I honestly doubt any mechanic would sabotage customer's vehicle for any reason. Some may lie or recommend works not needed to inflate the repair work for obvious reason($$$), but won't do anything you're thinking, just my 2 cents.
 

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1999 ML320
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16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Folks, again, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I am on the verge of ordering the following Sachs struts (complete units, $188 each) for the rears. If I am correct that my chassis# is the last 6 digits of the VIN, then my chassis# is: A058607. Here is the info as it appears on the partsgeek website:

"Part Number: 6414-08032843
Notes: Shock Absorber -- Not for cars with (Code 849).; thru chassis # A 093893; thru chassis # X 699999"

Does this look like a correct part to you guys? Also, my mechanic has given me a rough estimate of $166 to install these struts on the rear for me, and I think that sounds like a good deal. Your comments welcome, thank you!
Dave
 

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272 Posts
My best suggestion
1. Order a set of KYB front shocks
best price rockauto.com
2. Have the shocks installed

I have a 2002 ML 320 and have been using the same shocks since summer of 2015 and the ride quality is excellent

3. Also look at purchasing a pair of rear struts

4. Have your front ball joints checked. If they are original then they are probably worn out

The lower ball joints are replaceable but require a special tool and the steering knuckles have to be removed

The upper ball joints need to be replaced as a complete control arm

See links below:

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog...,3.2l+v6,1356397,suspension,control+arm,10401

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog...,3.2l+v6,1356397,suspension,control+arm,10401

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog...0,3.2l+v6,1356397,suspension,ball+joint,10070

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog....2l+v6,1356397,suspension,shock+absorber,7556

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/mercedes-benz,1999,ml320,3.2l+v6,1356397,suspension,strut,7584


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1999 ML320
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16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Joe and all, thanks for your comments and 4 or 5-point advice! I have ordered the KYB shocks for the front and I am going to install them myself. It was bad, but I now have all 4 shock bolts loosened so I know I will be able to install the new ones once they arrive. On The driver's side outer tie rod end, the rubber is opened up, so I guess it's obvious that needs to be replaced. I fooled a bit with it and I am not sure I am going to be able to get it out of there so I may need to have my mechanic do that in the coming weeks. There is some fluid (would that be power steering fluid?) dripping from the boot on the inner tie rod on that driver's side. Does that suggest that inner tie rod may also need replacement? Any comments/thoughts welcome.
 
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